Panthers vs. Bills: Three key players on defense to watch

Dareus playing time drops as part of D Line rotation

The Panthers are coming off a disappointing season, they were 6-10 in 2016 but in 2015 they were a Super Bowl team.

These teams are similar in many ways, starting with their dual threat quarterbacks. Yes, McDermott has played down returning to his former employer, but his insight into the Carolina Panthers is not a bad thing.

And it made no difference to him how that might affect Dareus, who is entering the second season of a six-year, $96 million contract which makes him Buffalo's top-paid player.

Here's a look at the leading rushers from Week 1 and three of the five-highest rushing totals belong to rookies. Newton only threw the ball 25 times, with a pair of touchdown passes, and only ran the ball six times, which is good for his health.

McDermott says he is familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of the Panthers. But Olsen was largely a non-factor in the Week 1 victory over San Fran, catching only two of four targeted passes for a quiet 18 yards. But they did pick up Jordan Matthews and drafted former East Carolina standout Zay Jones.

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Carolina head coach Ron Rivera addressed what he called Newton's "new normal" during his media availability this week, stating the team is just following the protocol set by the doctors and trainers to keep the QB's arm injury-free. In 2013, McCoy made his second All-Pro team after leading the National Football League with 1,607 rushing yards. Instead they won 23-3, but the game appeared to be a lot closer. Since 2012, when Panthers MLB Luke Kuechly entered the league, no other linebacker has more interceptions than he does (13). "He's very elusive, he's shifty", says Kuechly. Just by the nature of the position, usually you're freeing someone else up to make a play.

"I thought Marcell did a heck of a job of that the other day", said McDermott, who took over in January after Rex Ryan was sacked in the final week of last season. McDermott implemented a 4-3 scheme, and he's got an outstanding front seven to work with, headlined by Pro Bowlers tackles Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams. The last Bills TE to lead the team in receptions was Scott Chandler back in 2013 with 53.

Still, while much of the focus this week centers on folks who used to be in Carolina, Taylor - and especially McCoy - have enough talent to pose a threat to the Panthers' potential 2-0 start. But they're certainly not looking at it that way. But both sides seem to think that when push comes to shove the game will ultimately be decided by the players on the field, not McDermott's influence. So what's their approach?

It's tough to figure whether either side will have an advantage in this game based on their familiarity with each other.

Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane have been building the Buffalo Bills in Carolina's image and they'll get a chance to see how they stack up against the original model this week. "We've got to put in our time and earn the right to win, in which we plan on doing that".

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